Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
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Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 70,054
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Lock Up the Men, Evict the Women and Children
Posted on May 29, 2016
By Chris Hedges
Matthew Desmond’s book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” like Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed,” is a heartbreaking snapshot of the rapacious exploitation and misery we inflict on the most vulnerable, especially children. It is a picture of a world where industries have been created to fleece the poor, and destroy neighborhoods and ultimately lives. It portrays a judicial system that has broken down, a dysfunctional social service system and the license in neoliberal America to carry out unchecked greed, no matter what the cost.
“Her face had that look,” Desmond wrote. “The movers and the deputies knew it well. It was the look of someone realizing that her family would be homeless in a matter of hours. It was something like denial giving way to the surrealism of the scene: the speed and the violence of it all; sheriffs leaning against your wall, hands resting on holsters; all these strangers, these sweating men, piling your things outside, drinking water from your sink poured into your cups, using your bathroom. It was the look of being undone by a wave of questions. What do I need for tonight, for this week? Who should I call? Where is the medication? Where will we go? It was the face of a mother who climbs out of the cellar to find the tornado has leveled the house.”
Being poor in America is one long emergency. You teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, homelessness and hunger. You endure cataclysmic levels of stress, harassment and anxiety and long bouts of depression. Rent strips you of half your income—one in four families spend 70 percent of their income on rent—until you and your children are evicted, often into homeless shelters or abandoned buildings, when you fall behind on payments. A financial crisis—a medical emergency, a reduction in hours at work or the loss of a job, funeral expenses or car repairs—can lead inexorably to an eviction. Creditors, payday lenders and collection agencies hound you. You are often forced to declare bankruptcy. You cope with endemic violence, gangs, drugs and a judicial system that permits brutal police abuse and ships you to jail, or slaps you with huge fines, for minor offenses. You live for weeks or months with no heat, water or electricity because you cannot pay the utility bills, especially since fuel and utility rates have risen by more than 50 percent since 2000. Single mothers and their children usually endure this hell alone, because the men in these communities are locked up. Millions of families are tossed into the street every year.
We have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prison population. More than 60 percent of the 2.2 million incarcerated are people of color. If these poor people were not locked in cages for decades, if they were not given probationary status once they were freed, if they had stable communities, there would be massive unrest in the streets. Mass incarceration, along with debt peonage, evictions, police violence and a judicial system that holds up property rights, rather than justice, as the highest good and that denies nearly all of the poor a trial, forcing them to accept plea bargains, is one of the many tools of corporate oppression. .................(more)
Posted by marmar | Mon May 30, 2016, 10:25 PM (12 replies)
“Intermittent explosive disorder.” “Overactive bladder disorder.” Professional medical societies and paid drug industry researchers have loaded society up with new definitions of alleged ill health from which drug companies can profit when millions of otherwise well people are labeled as ailing.
“In 2003 and again in 2010,” for example, write MedPage Today editor Kristina Fiore and Milwaukee Journal reporter John Fauber, “the American Diabetes Association tinkered with the definition of a condition known as prediabetes, which independent doctors say is an unneeded label that has led to overtreatment with drugs, exposing patients to risks without proof of real benefit.”
“The changes, which twice lowered the threshold for hemoglobin A1C, increased the number of people fitting the diagnosis from 17 million to 87 million. Indeed, a March report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research estimated that 46% of Californians—13 million people—had prediabetes.”
“A Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today investigation found the ADA has long received more than $7 million in current annual funding. In addition, nine of the 14 experts who authored the 2010 change worked as speakers, consultants or advisers to companies that marketed diabetes medicines.”
In one instance, all five authors of a report reviewed by Fiore and Fauber had ties to a drug company that stood to profit from the study’s “findings.” ............(more)
Posted by marmar | Sat May 28, 2016, 10:17 AM (208 replies)
Manufacturing Recession Goes Global as Demand Withers
by Wolf Richter • May 24, 2016
The “strong dollar” has been blamed for the manufacturing doldrums in the US that started over a year ago. But then manufacturing in other countries should boom, or at least not decline, but that’s not the case. Manufacturing is sick and weakening in just about every major economy!
References to 2009 and the Global Financial Crisis keep popping up in the latest spate of reports because that’s how bad it has gotten.
US manufacturing gets ugly.
On Monday, Markit reported that its US Manufacturing PMI, which tracks the overall health of the manufacturing sector via surveys sent to purchasing managers, dropped to 50.5 (below 50 = contraction) in May, the weakest reading since October 2009.
Production actually declined for the first time since September 2009, “the height of the Global Financial Crisis.” Companies blamed “reduced foreign demand” as new export orders fell for the second month in a row. And they blamed the “uncertainty around the general economic outlook” which had caused their customers “to delay spending decisions,” which then triggered production cuts.
Backlog of work fell for the fourth month in a row, at the same rate as in April, which had been a “post-recession record,” which means that companies “will be poised to cut capacity unless inflows of new work start to pick up again.” ..............(more)
Posted by marmar | Fri May 27, 2016, 09:28 AM (8 replies)
The NIRP Refugees Are Coming to America
by Wolf Richter • May 26, 2016
Negative interest rate policies elsewhere hit US Treasury yields
The side effects of Negative Interest Rate Policies in Europe and Japan — what we’ve come to call the NIRP absurdity — are becoming numerous and legendary, and they’re fanning out across the globe, far beyond the NIRP countries.
No one knows what the consequences will be down the line. No one has ever gone through this before. It’s all a huge experiment in market manipulation. We have seen crazy experiments before, like creating a credit bubble and a housing bubble in order to stimulate the economy following the 2001 recession in the US, which culminated with spectacular fireworks.
Not too long ago, economists believed that nominal negative interest rates couldn’t actually exist beyond very brief periods. They figured that you’d have to increase inflation and keep interest rates low but positive to get negative “real” interest rates, which might have a similar effect, that of “financial repression”: perverting the behavior of creditors and borrowers alike, and triggering a massive wealth transfer.
But the NIRP absurdity has proven to be possible. It can exist. It does exist. That fact is so confidence-inspiring to central banks that more and more have inflicted it on their bailiwick. The Bank of Japan was the latest, and the one with the most debt to push into the negative yield absurdity — and therefore the most consequential.
But markets are globalized, money flows in all directions. The hot money, often borrowed money, washes ashore tsunami like, but then it can recede and dry up, leaving behind the debris. These money flows trigger chain reactions in markets around the globe. ..............(more)
Posted by marmar | Fri May 27, 2016, 09:25 AM (0 replies)
The state of Louisiana often wins the prize when it comes to "most pro-life state" on anti-abortion legislative lists. This year, they may be in the running again. Two major abortion restrictions have passed the legislature -- one extending the state's waiting period between the first clinic visit and actually receiving an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours, the second banning the method by which almost all abortions after the first trimester are done. Louisiana's ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions isn't the first to hit the nation, which is part of what makes this ban so dangerous. As connecting states continue to pass this law, the ability to access any abortions after the first trimester may completely disappear for women in certain parts of the US.
The D&E abortion ban essentially makes it illegal to perform any abortion in which the cervix is dilated and forceps or other instruments are used to remove the fetus in any way that isn't all in one piece. It is a procedure that is used in most abortions after about 15 weeks, when the fetus is no longer small enough to just be removed through the cannula using suction. The ban was first introduced in Kansas, where it was signed into law and then blocked by the courts, and later in Oklahoma where the same occurred. West Virginia also passed it, and there has so far been no legal challenge, but the law does not go into effect until the end of May.
Recently, a number of states passed the law within weeks of each other: Mississippi, Alabama and then finally, Louisiana. The passage of the ban in Mississippi was mostly ignored because the state's only provider doesn't offer second trimester abortions. The Alabama bill was overshadowed by another piece of legislation that forbids abortion clinics within 2000 feet of a school -- a bill which could close the two clinics that perform the vast majority of abortions in the state. And now Louisiana has passed its own, which the governor is expected to sign.
Alabama's law won't go into effect until August 1st, and it's unclear when Louisiana's would be implemented, but if all three state abortion laws are enforced, the move would leave a path of states all along the Gulf Coast where it would be impossible to obtain an abortion once a patient is past the first trimester. Everyone between Houston or Dallas Texas and Atlanta, Georgia would need to travel to one of those cities if their pregnancies advanced beyond 14 weeks, leaving a literal 800 mile stretch without any second trimester services. ..............(more)
Posted by marmar | Fri May 27, 2016, 09:19 AM (4 replies)
Dahr Jamail | Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration Has Passed the Point of No Return
Monday, 23 May 2016 00:00
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report
A recent trip up Washington State's Mount Rainier brought home to me how rapidly things are changing, even in the high country.
I first climbed the mountain in 1994, when the main route was a picturesque climb up smooth glaciers. Most of the time crevasses weren't even visible, and snow cover was abundant.
But anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) has been speeding up with each passing year, and in the same area 22 years later, I found large portions of it nearly unrecognizable. We took a somewhat different route than the one I'd climbed in 1994, primarily because the lower portion of that route is now unusable, as the glacier it traversed is so broken up and crevassed as to make it impassable.
It being early season (most of the guide services had yet to begin taking clients up the mountain), I expected much heavier snow cover and the snow bridges over crevasses to be in decent shape. That wasn't the case. After gingerly stepping our way over several sketchy snow bridges, I was grateful we weren't on the 14,411-foot-high northwestern volcano any later in the season than we were. Thankfully, we were able to summit and get back down without incident.
Less than a year and a half earlier, in December 2014, Nature World News reported that ACD was melting Rainier's glaciers at "unprecedented" rates (six times the historic speed). .............(more)
Posted by marmar | Thu May 26, 2016, 10:17 AM (40 replies)
In the latest major announcement designed to improve transportation options in the L.A. region, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the city of Los Angeles has announced they will officially launch Metro’s bike sharing program in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, July 7.
Up to 1,000 bicycles will be available at up to 65 strategically placed downtown L.A. locations, serving Union Station, City Hall, Grand Park, the L.A. Convention Center, South Park, Chinatown, the Arts District, the Fashion District, Little Tokyo and more. Many bike share stations will be placed in close proximity to the Metro Rail and Bus network, giving transit riders direct access to Metro bikes to easily combine bicycle and transit trips.
“We are excited that L.A. will officially join the bike share revolution that is now giving city dwellers across the nation new ways to explore their urban communities,” said Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair. “Marrying bicycle and transit trips will go a long way in supporting healthy lifestyles, easing traffic on downtown streets and, perhaps most importantly, getting Angelenos where they need to go in an efficient and affordable manner.”
People who live, work and play in downtown L.A. are encouraged to sign up for a Metro bike share pass in advance of the launch. The system will be accessible exclusively to pass holders from July 7 until August 1, 2016 to incentivize pass holder sales. The system will open to walk-up customers starting August 1. People who purchase their pass early will get a limited edition Metro Bike Share Kit. The first 1,000 people to sign up will also receive exclusive Metro bike share pins. ...............(more)
Posted by marmar | Thu May 26, 2016, 09:57 AM (0 replies)
Rumors of a Coup Against DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Circulate on Capitol Hill
Posted on May 25, 2016
On Tuesday evening, Politico reported that a coup attempt was in the works against Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz. By Wednesday, her prospects weren’t looking a great deal brighter.
Worse, some high-ranking peers in her party weren’t exactly rushing to her rescue, according to CNN and Politico, who canvassed several key Democrats in and around Congress.
First, this from CNN:
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of Hillary Clinton’s leading supporters on Capitol Hill, told CNN Wednesday that Wasserman Schultz is seen by supporters of Bernie Sanders as “part of the problem.” She said the Florida congresswoman is playing a “starring role” ahead of the Democratic National Convention in July, which is unusual for someone in her position.
Another Democratic adviser close to Clinton said “there is an exhaustion that comes with dealing with her.” ...................(more)
Posted by marmar | Thu May 26, 2016, 09:47 AM (4 replies)
White football players brutally raped black teammate during racist assault in HS locker room: police
John R.K. Howard, one of three white football players charged in the brutal sexual assault of a black teammate (Courtesy of Tarrant County, Texas)
Three white high school football players from Dietrich, Idaho have been charged in the brutal sexual assault of a black teammate, The Washington Post reports. The alleged assault took place on October 23rd last year in the men’s locker room at Dietrich High School. Law enforcement officials allege that one of the football players restrained the victim while another shoved a coat hanger up his rectum and another repeatedly kicked the coat hanger.
Two of the alleged perpetrators, 18-year-old John R.K. Howard and 17-year-old Tanner Ward, are being charged as adults. An unnamed 16-year-old football player is being charged in the case as a juvenile. Howard has not yet filed a plea in the case and it isn’t yet known whether Ward has filed a plea, the Post says.
The unidentified victim’s family also filed a $10 million lawsuit earlier this month alleging that this vicious sexual assault was the culmination of a harassment campaign against him. The family alleges that his teammates would regularly insult him with racially charged terms and the suit alleges he was regularly called “‘Kool-Aid’ ‘chicken eater’ ‘watermelon’ and (the N-word),” the Post reports. ............(more)
Posted by marmar | Wed May 25, 2016, 09:40 AM (38 replies)
Share Buybacks Now Bought Out, American Enterprise in Decline
by David Haggith • May 22, 2016
“The practice is even starting to reek of death to market bulls.”
By David Haggith, The Great Recession Blog:
I have pointed out in previous articles how most of the growth in stocks over the past few years has been due to stock share buybacks. Without this hideous (and at one time illegal) practice, there would have been no bull market over the last few years.
That’s right. Research from no other place than Wall Street, itself, indicates that almost all of the returns since 2009 have been due to stock share buybacks!
Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist and perma-bull at Charles Schwab, recently acknowledged that “… there has not been a dollar added to the U.S. stock market since the end of the financial crisis by retail investors and pension funds….” Since every buyer has a seller (and vice versa), what group or groups had enough of a buying presence to push the S&P 500 14.2% off of the February closing lows? Corporations. (Seeking Alpha)
Stock share buybacks may be winding down
But you cannot do share buybacks forever. Companies have been using profits and loading up on debt to make these share buybacks for so long that the law of diminishing returns is kicking in here, too.
First, it is kicking in because companies are nearing the end of their capacity to keep eating themselves. Earnings have been falling while debt has been stacking up, and so the capacity just isn’t there any more. (And I mean even the doctored earnings — as almost all major corporations have moved away from GAAP reporting policies — have been falling badly.) ...........(more)
Posted by marmar | Mon May 23, 2016, 12:08 PM (1 replies)